Teaching Philosophy. My goal as a science educator is to promote science literacy, critical thinking, and students’ confidence in their ability to understand, evaluate, conduct and communicate scientific research. I am a firm believer on student-centered classrooms and on evidence-based active learning techniques. At an age where information changes and accumulates faster than we can possibly assimilate, we can better service the next generation of scientists and citizens by teaching them how to teach themselves, procure information, and build well-informed opinions, rather than by emphasizing fact-loaded lectures.
And, above all, LEARNING SHOULD BE FUN! By incorporating real-world examples, a variety of media, games, and sheer good humor in my classes, I hope to bring excitement and self-motivation to my students. Outside the classroom, I participate in a variety of science outreach programs for kids and adults, in hopes to inform citizens and energize the next generation of scientists!
A good day of teaching for me? One when someone teaches me something new!
Courses. I have taught undergraduate and advanced undergraduate/graduate courses at University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of California-Los Angeles, University of New Orleans and Tulane University. Below is a description of the courses I currently teach at Tulane University, along with sample syllabi (subject to change):
EBIO1010 Diversity of Life. The planet Earth, your planet, hosts a unique and amazing diversity of life. How did we arrive at so many different life forms? How do we observe, understand, and organize them? Where do they fit in, and why should we care? In this course you will become familiar with evolutionary theory and processes and the diversity and ecology of organisms. We will begin with discussions on what constitutes life, how the scientific process works, and the development of evolutionary theory. You will then become familiar with the major groups of organisms, focusing on major evolutionary innovations found in each group and how different groups are phylogenetically related to each other. We will conclude with general principles in ecology, behavior and conservation. Co-requisite: EBIO1015 Diversity of Life Lab. Sample Syllabus
EBIO2020 Theory and Methods in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. This course is an introduction to the fundamental theories and methods in ecology and evolutionary biology and is designed specifically for students majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO) or Environmental Biology (ENVB). You will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in your major through direct, active experiences evaluating and communicating scientific evidence. The course topics are designed to reflect current research interests in the department, as well as some classic case studies in the discipline. Irrespective of topic, the course emphasizes a practical understanding of the scientific process and will focus on developing the skills needed for upper-level courses in EBIO. The course also provides opportunities for you to become familiar with the research interests and experiences of our faculty members, and identify potential research opportunities. Prerequisites: EBIO1010/1015. Sample Syllabus
EBIO2110 Tropical Biology. This course will provide an introduction to ecological and evolutionary studies of living organisms in the tropics, with a special emphasis in the Neotropics. The course will focus on major themes in tropical biology, many of which are as important today as they were when early tropical naturalists first wrote about them. We will read a number of classic papers in the field and compare their insights with those of contemporary tropical biology literature. No prerequisites. Sample Syllabus
EBIO2250 Vertebrate Biology. This course offers a broad examination of the phylogenetic relationships, evolutionary history, adaptations, behavior, ecology, and current conservation status of vertebrate animals. You will also become familiarized with the basic theory and practice of phylogenetic systematics. Although emphasis will be placed on extant vertebrates, we will also discuss the major extinct lineages, both as a way to emphasize how the dominant biological forms have changed throughout the history of Earth, as well to better understand the evolutionary processes that resulted in modern vertebrate forms. Special emphasis will be put on understanding connections between the form of biological organs and structures and their function, on understanding the historical environmental conditions that promoted the evolution of different vertebrate life forms, and to compare the different evolutionary ‘solutions’ reached by different groups of vertebrates to solve common biological problems. Prerequisites: EBIO1010/1015 or permission from instructor. Sample Syllabus
EBIO4080/6080 Biostatistics and Experimental Design. In this course, you will learn how to interpret statistical data in a biological context. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding the nature of data analysis for ecological experiments and experimental design. The class is designed for students who have not had prior experience with statistics. Students will learn to: 1) design experiments suitable for statistical analysis, 2) choose the correct statistical test to apply to a given data set, 3) apply those tests to answer questions in ecology and evolutionary biology, and 4) interpret the meaning of their results. Prerequisite: EBIO 1010/1115 or equivalent. Sample Syllabus
EBIO1015 Global Environmental Change. Change is an integral part of natural systems. The constant cycling of energy and materials through ecosystems maintains a delicate natural balance. Human impacts on ecosystems, however, have affected natural cycles in many unexpected ways. By changing both the magnitude and timing of energy and materials cycling through global systems, by reinforcing some processes and restricting others, we are steadily changing the face of the planet. Some of these changes are desirable, but most are not. This class provides an introduction to the basic natural processes that keep the planet alive and the many ways in which humans have upset those processes, as well as proposed solutions. We will discuss current environmental issues in an effort to make students environmentally literate citizens, who can speak (and vote) with authority on environmental issues. No prerequisites. EBIO1040 does not count toward an EBIO major or minor; it also does not count for honors credit. A student who is planning on (or are even considering) an EBIO major or minor should not take this class. Instead, consider enrolling in EBIO2050 (Global Change Biology). Students may receive credit for only one of EBIO1040 or EBIO 2050.
EBIO3780 Tropical Field Biology and Conservation. This is an intensive, immersive 2-week long study abroad course with a strong focus on experiential learning and engaged scholarship. The course will be primarily based in Ecuador, with expectations for additional work before and after the international experience. The course serves as a 3000-level elective in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and as an elective for Environmental Studies (EVST) minors. It includes a mandatory, zero-credit Service Learning component (to be fulfilled during the course), which will satisfy the second tier SL requirement for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Sample Syllabus